ByteDance, the owner of the TikTok social media app, has begun to hire specialists to develop its datacenter system-on-chips (SoCs). ByteDance will join multiple high-tech Chinese companies that recently rolled out their own data center SoCs designed to work on specific workloads.
So far, ByteDance has posted 31 chip-related openings on its website, reports TMTPost. Thirty-one chip engineers will barely be able to build an advanced processor, but what they could do is create a set of design requirements for contract chip developers, such as Alchip. Then, once a contract chip developer creates an appropriate design, a contract maker of semiconductors (like TSMC) will mass produce it for ByteDance.
For now, ByteDance only says it plans to develop its chips without elaborating. Typically, chip design cycles take years, so we will only learn about the company's SoCs a few years later.
What exactly ByteDance plans to develop is a big question. CNBC (opens in new tab) cites a spokesperson from the company that the data center grade system-on-chip from the social media giant will support various business areas, including video platforms, information, and entertainment apps. Meanwhile, several China-based sources (such as) indicate that ByteDance is looking forward to designing artificial intelligence chips.
ByteDance's key business is its TikTok media app, so it would be logical for the company to develop an SoC akin to Google's Argos video (trans)coding (VCU) to transcode video streams uploaded by TikTok users. Meanwhile, to further reduce power consumption, traffic, and storage capacities used by TikTok datacenters, ByteDance could introduce all-new codecs or AI algorithms. Furthermore, adding AI enhancements could improve image quality.
ByteDance will be yet another China-based cloud giant that develops its chips. For example, Alibaba has its own AI inference chip and general-purpose processor. Meanwhile, Baidu has its own Kunlun AI processor. Tencent also has its processors for various cloud workloads.
The Guardian reports that Nine Republican senators this week issued a later to TikTok following a report by Buzzfeed last month claiming that employees of ByteDance (TikTok's parent company) were able to access private data of American users from their work location in China
So once that happens, what are you going to do with your fancy pants TikTok specific hardware? Uh oh.